UPDATE: Sheriff Offers Updates on Changing State of Gator Incident Investigation

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During a noon press conference, the sheriff in charge of the ongoing investigation offered a few updates on the incident.

Since it has been 15 hours since the child was taken, the effort has now become a recovery mission to bring closure to the family who suffered the loss.

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5 alligators have been removed, euthanized, and examined since the search began, but no traces of the victim have been found.

There were several eyewitnesses to the incident according to the Sheriff, so any thoughts of foul play can be laid to rest.

Walt Disney World has since closed of all of the beaches in the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake areas of the resort in response, as well, all watercraft service has been suspended.

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About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

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  • I absolutely HATE that this happened(I can’t imagine the pain that the family is feeling right now), but should they have euthanized 5 alligators to no avail? Euthanizing seems a bit harsh from my expertise (which does not exist in this case at all).

    • I have a feeling that it would have been more difficult to analyze stomach content without first euthanizing them. :(

  • They euthanize them to see if the child’s remains are in the alligators stomach. They don’t euthanize them for fun, just trying to locate the child’s remains.

  • Its probably the only way they could check to make sure it was not the gator that got the boy. They probably had to check the stomach contents :( Heartbreaking !

  • As a cast member of over a decade who will stay anonymous, I pray for the family!!!! I must also say this is NOT completely UNEXPECTED. Disney has been making tremendous cut backs behind the scenes, most of which guests would never know, some which they may see. And yes, many of these cuts have been in wildlife management, as well as other issues that affect safety, pest control, food service.

    While I respect my company has the right to make the most profit possible, there’s no way you can keep cutting back in resources and not expect some ‘goof ups’. You really think when they only open 3 out of 20 turnstiles to get in, that they’re going to keep all the safety steps and personal in place? That is a dream. And now this family faces a nightmare.

    • Alligators in Florida are not a “goof up”, they are a reality. To assume any amount of money or personnel could make even WDW 100% safe 100% of the time is crazy. Disney does their best, but in the end there are inherent risks in life that cannot be avoided.

      Just because a tragic and extremely rare event happens, there’s not necessarily anyone to blame.

      • Ignorance isn’t bliss for this family though…God Bless them. Yes, Alligators are Florida reality. So was Disney’s wildlife management team with resources and staff members cut by more than half for cost savings reasons, and they didn’t close the beach areas knowing the risk was substantially higher. Disney is partially to blame for this tragedy. Disney has a lot of incidents you’re not made aware of. They have PR department and push cast member that Safe-D First. But when we point out issues, we’re assured it will be addressed, nothing happens. If we complain again, we are reprimanded. They work more to maintain perception to it being ‘happiest place on earth’, with mostly lip service, and an illusion of safety.

    • Anonymous, you seem like a bitter former employee. Disney could not prevent this, it was a freak accident.
      God bless this family.

      • This is exactly what Anonymous is talking about. He/She is trying to give some information and people doubt it like @Jackie. For us that keep up with Disney know that there have been cuts and I’m sure there is a lot that we don’t know. I can’t believe there is that many gators in the water and they don’t have any kind of gates/fencing that will stop one from coming up to the beach!

      • Wrong on several accounts Jackie. I still work for WDW. Not saying Disney can prevent all tragedies or freak accidents. HOWEVER, you have to expect some increase in incidents when there are the the tremendous cut backs we have experienced for some time, and well documented to the public recently. They cut a lot of the wildlife management team, and most all of their resources as a cost cutting measure.

        Choose to believe what you wish. I agree parents should take accountability, Disney isn’t as childproof as you’d think. The random searches are well documented to be in attempt to make guests ‘feel better’, not as an actual measure of safety.

        There have been a lot of cut backs behind the scenes that affect safety. We’re discouraged from making a big issue about them, though encouraged to call them. We are told NOT to ever call 911, as Disney want’s to handle issues internally for PR reasons. This number is on all of our IDs. I’m sure some observant guests notice other cutbacks ‘on stage’ (aka in public eye). There’s many more than you see. Many Blessings to the family.

    • For those people who are saying this couldn’t have been prevented ask yourself if you ever heard of this happening at disney before? I know I never heard of it. Don’t you think that cutting back on the wildlife management program was a major cause of this. They already found 5 gators in the lagoon. That’s shocking and an unacceptable risk disney is taking with public safety.

  • Anyone who swims in any body of water in Florida (other than a pool) should know that alligators are possibly in that water. Even removing them only works until another one slides in. They travel great distances and can even climb low barriers. It’s FLORIDA! Those of us who live in Florida know better (at least most of us) but signs should be put up at all Disney locations where there is a body of “natural” water. Very sad about the little boy.

  • Maybe they should drain the lagoons make them more of a filtered water source that make the water clear and then it’s not so much a safety issue since you can see into it. sfill usable for boats and water crafts with visibility to see gators. Everyone is thinks my of the family that remains but I feel for the child the fear and pain that this child endured. that could have been prevented. If they don’t want people near water and signs are of no use then a fence to keep people back might be the answer

  • Even draining the water lagoon and making it filtered wont keep natural wildlife from filtering in. It’s just impossible unless the lagoon is held within an enclosed building.

  • This is very sad indeed. But no one seems to focus on the negligence of the parents. “No swimming” signs are clearly posted. So, why on earth were they even in the water? Its just common sense – no swimming means stay out of the water.

    The parents should have been more aware of the rules. The resort cast members should have been aware of what the guest were doing and told them to stay out the water. Unfortunately, at this point it is what it is, a child has tragically lost his life to a natural predator.

    I foresee fences in the future and who knows what else all because someone didn’t follow the rules.

    • Uh, the no swimming sign is to cover Disney’s backside regarding the deadly amoeba that is in the water that could potentially kill you. The one that shut down River Country. Where are the Danger: Aligator signs? This family is from the Midwest where gators are not a threat, so how are they to know that the water at “the happiest place on earth” would be teeming with gators?! Why, then, do they parasail in this body of water? Perhaps because the cutbacks to the wildlife department have left dollar signs in their eyes and the inability to see the mounting lawsuits.

  • God bless the little boy and his family.pure negligence on Disney’s part. Sue the hell out of Disney. It wont bring back the little boy but hopefully it will change thethe way that Disney’s big wigs run the business

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